Vertex Pharmaceuticals Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. is buying Canadian drugmaker ViroChem Pharma Inc., a firm specializing in hepatitis C virus (HCV) and HIV drug development, for about $377 million in a cash-and-stock deal.

While the transaction beefs up Vertex's hepatitis HCV drug portfolio with two investigational polymerase inhibitors – VCH-222 and VCH-759 – Wall Street was lethargic about the deal, with shares of the Cambridge, Mass.-based firm (NASDAQ:VRTX) gaining only 7 cents Wednesday, to close at $28.03.

Under the deal, which has been approved by the boards of both companies, ViroChem shareholders will receive $100 million in cash and 9.9 million shares of Vertex common stock, said Ian Smith, Vertex's chief financial officer.

The stock portion of the consideration is subject to a collar, and the actual number of shares of Vertex stock to be issued will be based on an average Vertex share price prior to the acquisition closing, but not to exceed 11 million shares, Smith noted during a conference call with investors and analysts.

Most analysts estimated the total deal's worth at about $377 million, based on Tuesday's closing price of $27.96.

Vertex currently is evaluating its lead candidate telaprevir, an HCV protease inhibitor, in Phase III trials, which has enrolled more than 2,200 genotype 1 HCV patients, including patients who have both failed prior treatment with pegylated interferon and ribavirin and treatment-naïve patients, said Freda Lewis-Hall, executive vice president of medicines development for Vertex.

The company plans to file a new drug application for telaprevir in the second half of 2010, assuming successful completion of its ongoing Phase III program, she said.

Vertex has retained the commercial rights to telaprevir in North America, but has partnered with Yardley, Pa.-based Tibotec Inc. to develop and commercialize the drug in Europe, South America, Australia, the Middle East and other countries.

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